President Biden has ordered a review of personnel policies for the national security and foreign policy workforces, saying the government “must close mission-critical knowledge and skills gaps, compete in and win the race for talent, equip our workforce with cutting-edge technology and agile, flexible, and adaptive organizational structures, and establish incentives and rewards for innovation across the government.”
“For too long, we have asked our public servants to do more in an increasingly complicated and competitive world, with fewer financial resources and less support,” he said in a memo. “Their experience, integrity, and professionalism have been severely tested. We have fallen short in ensuring that our national security workforce reflects and draws on the richness and diversity of the country it represents. And we have failed to ensure that our public servants have the necessary tools, training, and support to fully realize their potential.”
The memo (Memorandum on Revitalizing America’s Foreign Policy and National Security Workforce, Institutions, and Partnerships) orders a 180-day review of existing authorities designed to aid in hiring of persons with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics expertise; economic and financial expertise; critical language skills and regional expertise; and in dealing with international partners. That is to include a report on the use of such authorities, best practices on using them, impediments, and recommendations for improvements.
Within a year, a new Interagency Working Group on the National Security Workforce is to make recommendations in areas addressing critical staffing needs, retaining experienced personnel, increasing diversity, and enhancing career development through steps “such as through expanded external and interagency rotational opportunities, review of time in-class requirements and criteria for key assignments.”
That group also is to “Identify lessons learned and best practices from the COVID-19 pandemic and develop agency-specific plans to resource and implement changes that build more flexibility and resiliency into the national security workforce, including through remote work options, adoption of secure remote technology, reduction of the over-classification of materials, and flexible work arrangements.”